If you are looking for great family days out in Sussex, places to go in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas have a look at some of the places we have been. I have rated them out of 10 for your convenience and I have given them reviews and provided information on how the day went.
1. Drusilla’s Park Zoo
My rating is 7/10
As there is not a regular or reliable bus route I recommended that you drive here if possible. My mum gave us a lift for my daughter's 3rd birthday. We were very lucky that day because the weather was definitely on our side. It was 28 degrees celsius which personally I found was slightly too hot for two toddlers.
We bought a picnic with us, as the restaurants and cafes in the zoo were too expensive. In all honesty, I found the price extremely high. Yes it was hot, yes there was a lot included but if it was cheaper, the rating I gave, would have been higher. The zoo was good, there were Meerkats, monkeys, anteaters, and lots more.
The only problem was that because it being such a hot sticky day, the animals were all hiding away. They couldn’t cope with the heat. I know this isn’t the zoo’s fault, but the price should have been knocked down a little for that reason. As we got to the park the kids were super excited! There were loads of swings, slides, climbing frames, and even underfloor trampolines.
Before we decided to play in the park, we sat in the picnic garden with plenty of shaded areas to have our lunch. We finished up having lunch, (the kids didn’t eat much because of excitement.) The trampolines were the main attraction for my little ones and the slides. There were a few things for bigger kids, that our kids were too little for. We asked for the times of the Free Thomas tank engine train ride and went around the whole of the park/zoo on that. Which the kids loved, but for an adult, it was too slow. Finally, we entered the area where they had the hello kitty land and a few others.
We didn’t know the rides were actually free also. That definitely was a plus, there were no queues so we could carry on going on the rides as many times as we liked. Overall Drusilla's was a good day out, the kids have entertained apart from a lot of walking around which we did bring a buggy. I would recommend that you take one also. The animals - although there was a lot, they did hideaway. They looked healthy and happy where they were living and well looked after. The parks were in good condition, no complaints there! The toy/souvenir shop was well overpriced because well..most places are! Once my kids were in there they wanted this and that but I wasn’t spending that kind of money after the price of the entry. I would go again if the price was lowered but it is cheaper to book online so I would do that next time.
2. Brighton Sea Life Centre
My rating 4/10
The sea life center in Brighton is very local and easy to get to with most buses. It is also right next to the beach, pier, town, and lots of restaurants nearby. We attended the sea life center with a group of people from a charity called CASE central (they fund trips for low-income families that cannot afford many days out). It was supposed to be a beautiful day but typical Brighton weather let us down and we had to take cover while waiting to get the tickets from the organizers of the group. When we entered the aquarium it was very dark and you are told to stand together for a picture that they try charging more money for! We kindly said ‘no thank you and went on our way.
The Sealife Centre was busy
We did attend the sea life center on one of the busiest days because of the school holidays, and because of it being busy there was nowhere to sit. I didn’t bring the buggy with me which is a big regret of mine as my 2 years old wouldn’t walk longer than 5-second bursts. Carrying him and keeping my daughter within sight was difficult for us both.
It smelt funny, I mean fish do smell and so does water but being down low in a hot dark center with hundreds of people and children running riot was not my cup of tea at all. We hurried through the hurdles of people then my son decided he wanted to use the toilet..it was all the way back near the entrance and my goodness there was people waiting in a line for a good ten minutes I’m surprised he held it that long.
Once he had finished we headed back to see some turtles, crabs, and all the other funky fish. The kids did like it but they weren’t head over heels, they were tired, hungry, and boiling with all of these people around! So we met with the group we came with and they said we would have a picnic in the shark area where there are seats and a glass-bottom boat.
Upstairs we sat together for all of 5 minutes, the smell was repulsive and it was too hot and dark. We abandoned our group and decided to buy our own lunch on Brighton beach, we got burgers and chips, and sat on the beach with some good old pier doughnuts.
Brighton sea life center is more for older children that can read, explore the different activities, and surroundings. The price for me wasn’t a problem as I was not paying but there are some good half price vouchers so look before you book! There wasn’t much else to do other than looking at fish or paying silly prices for arcade games in the exit area. They need to add more toilets around the whole place as having them only at the entrance area Is not ideal with a 2 and 3-year-old. They would also benefit from a toddler play area such as soft play. I personally would not attend again unless they were to upgrade it. Adding airconditioning, lower price, including soft play, play area, and have a little more on offer to do as it can be over and done with within about 45 minutes.
3. Brighton pier
My rating 5/10
Similar to the sealife center Brighton, the pier is very local to bus routes and easy to access. As a family for my daughter Olivia's 4th birthday we decided to take her on the pier as it has a lot of good reps. We did choose a very hot day, it was around 24 degrees. Which is hot for Brighton so that was a plus! My son fell asleep in the buggy as it was hot and he needed a nap. We entered the pier, which is free to enter. You get a good smell of fresh sea air, freshly cooked doughnuts, and local fish & chips.
My daughter was eager to get on with the day we got to the first ride she was interested in, my son was also very amused by the looks of it so I paid £5 for 2 minutes of fun but in a way, it was worth it to see the happy smile on my daughter’s face. They are both small, I did have to ride with them for no extra cost. As time went on it was getting hotter and I found my son was too small to ride on almost anything and it wasn’t fair so Olivia went on the trampolines which if I’m honest was a complete waste of time and money! Finally, we let the kids and my mum go on the teacups which they loved. However, my mum not so much, she felt incredibly sick and she screamed (on a kid's ride) which was very amusing! Then we headed to the beach for ice cream and sat in the sun.
Brighton pier is not all it's cracked up to be, not yet anyway as my children were too young. There isn’t much to ride on or do on the pier unless you buy expensive wrist bands. Bring your own food because the price of food is just unimaginable even a bottle of water is £2. The price since I’ve been there when I was younger has gone up incredibly. The staff didn’t seem happy with their jobs. I personally would go again to try out the soft play with the kids. as it did look good, just not on a hot summer's day! I wouldn’t pay for the rides again, I would go to a more well-known theme park instead.
4. Paradise Park
My rating 8/10
The bus routes for paradise park do take quite a while from Woodingdean where we live. We had to get two buses to Newhaven. Which means you have to buy a network saver. It costs only a few pounds more and we were lucky enough to get a couple's saver. More ideally you should drive to this destination as my daughter did get a little impatient.
When we finally arrived, the bus stop was just opposite the paradise park so that was an added bonus. We paid entry, got our stickers and headed through the dinosaur land. This was incredible how they’ve made them look so real. We got my daughter and son to press the buttons that move the dinosaur’s head and make them growl. My children did find this slightly scary but they were only aged 1 and 2 so it's understandable even I found it a little startling. Once we finished walking through the dinosaur and space entertainment place. We found a great garden area indoors with beautiful paradise plants and a pond with some waterfalls.
Lots to do at paradise park
There was a little maze to go through, it was very beautiful to look at, and to have pictures taken. We left the gardens and went to the picnic area as we were starving after all the walking around and travelling. They had a large picnic area with lots of seating right next to a play park. After our lunch we let the children play in the soft play area while I and my partner sat down to relax. They had toilets for within close distances.
Once we had finished in the soft play and ball pit we tried out the play park, my son who was only 1 was a little too small for some of the slides and things but there was still plenty to do. Finally, we were finished on our adventure through the park. Then I realised there was a hidden train ride area that takes you around to see the beautiful plants. We also found there were a garden center and cafe on the other side of the park, this was an added bonus! We went on the train around the gardens and the children loved it.
Paradise Park was a lovely day out! It was a little pricey, but there were lots to do. You should drive there as the journey on a bus takes quite a while. I would also recommend you take your children when they are aged four-plus. This is because there are lots to do for older kids. I would definitely go here again, it was a great day and my daughter fell asleep on the way home. This is the best family day out in Sussex.
5. Burgess hill triangle swimming pool
My rating 7/10 Getting here is a little tricky from Woodingdean, we took 2 buses to Brighton train station then a train then another bus, we spent quite a lot of money just on travelling here but we had tried all of Brighton’s swimming pools out and wanted to try a new one. After all of the buses and trains getting there. We got to the swimming pool centre and paid for 4 of us to swim. The changing rooms were very warm, which was a bonus because it was only 6 degrees outside. We used the toilets which were smelly, they do need to be cleaned more regularly. There was a shallow pool with lots of things for kids to play with, my son was afraid of water sprays at that time so this was a little difficult.
Great swimming pool for families
We then entered the deeper pool with a fountain area we could sit behind and relax together as a family. My son, however, did not like it because he was so scared. There was a whirlpool that was very fun for us all! We also tried out their super fast fun slides, the kiddies loved it and so did we. Unfortunately, we didn’t stay in the water for as long as it was getting late. The kids were hungry, and my son had enough of the water. Overall it was very fun for kids and adults, just not for the younger ones. We got changed and headed to the nearest bus stop. In burgess hill buses are very irregular. After 1 hour of waiting around, the bus finally came. We got dropped at the train station, we ended up missing the train and waited another 40 minutes.
Brighton trains are always delayed around this time of night. Luckily we brought some snacks with us for the kids as swimming is hungry work. The most part of it was travelling on buses and trains. I would definitely say to drive as it isn’t a long drive from Brighton. The price you pay is worth it because there are lots to do. Plenty of slides and whirlpools for the kids. I would go again but when my children are older, my son was very scared of the splashing water and fountains, etc. Overall there is plenty to do in the leisure center such as soft play, a cafe, a climbing wall, and much more.
Our rating 5/10
The idea behind this place is great, it's super fun and I would highly recommend coming as a couple. The main problem is that the course is not all that big and the game is over very quickly, this is a shame considering that the price to get in is not the cheapest. Also, they let way too many people come in all at once which means that you are either waiting for the next pitch or have people behind you that are waiting. Either way, not very pleasant being rushed along when you want to enjoy the experience. They have two different courses: Jurassic dinosaurs, or animals. You can definitely have a good time, just come when it's not very busy.
7. Hove park
My rating 8/10
Possibly the most beautiful park in Sussex, it is large with a ton of nature. Lots of space to run around, play football, tennis, have a picnic, play basketball, have a bbq. There is a cafe serving hot food and drinks, large enclosed kids' play park. There are shops, restaurants nearby, you can spend the whole day here. I hope you like this summary of the best family days out in Sussex. If you have any questions do not hesitate to leave a comment below. Get out and about this summer and have a great time. Don’t forget to wear suncream.
8. Lewes Castle
My rating 8/10
This castle is small and you can walk around the whole castle in under an hour, if you like history and museums then this place is for you. There is a lot of history to uncover and it is a cheap and cheerful fun day out, a family ticket is relatively cheap at £24.
9. Arundel Castle
my rating 4/10
The castle and gardens are magnificent, in fact Arundel Castle is much nicer in every way compared to Lewes castle. The reason for such a low rating is because of the extortionate price to get in at £60 or more for a family ticket and despite all of the wonderful things inside the castle that you can visually see, you are not allowed to touch anything.
There are staff at every corner watching you to ensure you don't touch and this in my opinion ruined it. It is a whole day out with plenty to see, and if not being able to touch doesn't put you off then you will have a wonderful family day out. Discover our in depth blog post about our visit to Arundel Castle here.